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Old 07-30-2021, 06:42 PM   #1
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Milk Kefir

While back, in a side discussion about yogurt somewhere on this site, I mentioned the intention to try my hand at kefir milk, maybe even kefir cheese.

Finally got my first shipment of milk kefir grains; USPS lost the first batch. These things are living cultures so it's kinda like adopting a new pet. Should have my first glass of kefir milk tomorrow morning but these things need time to habituate to new surroundings and there is also a little learning curve for wrangling them properly. So should take some time before they and I get up to speed. If there is any interest, for a while maybe even if there isn't, I'll post here occasionally about successes and failures encountered.

Any advice or experience on the subject will be appreciated.

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Old 07-30-2021, 11:12 PM   #2
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I'm interested in reading updates. Is kefir the one that needs to be bumped a bit, while it's fermenting?
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Old 07-31-2021, 01:58 AM   #3
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I'm interested in reading updates. Is kefir the one that needs to be bumped a bit, while it's fermenting?
Not sure what they mean by "needs to be bumped a bit." I have seen the grains referred to as bumps though. To me, they look like cottage cheese curds. At the end of fermentation, or first fermentation, which is something like eight to forty-eight hours you are supposed to separate the grains from the kefir and start another batch or rehydrate(?) them with a little fresh milk in the refrigerator for a couple/few days. Complicating this though is the milk tends to separate into curds and whey during fermentation and the "curds" are definitely not the same thing as the "grains." Being brand new to this and without a mentor, it all seems a little murky at this point. I'll include a few links below. The first one from the folks I bought the kefir from and a couple more from sites that might be more authoritative.
  1. poseymom.com
  2. traditionalcookingschool.com
  3. kombbuchakamp.com
  4. growforagecookferment.com/

I woke up at 1:30 AM fretting over the whole thing. Tasted a spoonful; about six hours in it just tastes like room temperature sweet milk.

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Old 07-31-2021, 10:42 AM   #4
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About thirteen hours in no discernible change in taste, smell, thickness, or effervescence. Stirred with a wooden spoon; grains have grown or more probably coalesced. No telling how many of these small marble size balls there were; for sure at least two.

I didn't take a picture of the grains before starting. They were maybe a teaspoonful and about the size of small cottage cheese curds
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Old 07-31-2021, 12:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skilletlicker View Post
Not sure what they mean by "needs to be bumped a bit." I have seen the grains referred to as bumps though. To me, they look like cottage cheese curds. At the end of fermentation, or first fermentation, which is something like eight to forty-eight hours you are supposed to separate the grains from the kefir and start another batch or rehydrate(?) them with a little fresh milk in the refrigerator for a couple/few days. Complicating this though is the milk tends to separate into curds and whey during fermentation and the "curds" are definitely not the same thing as the "grains." Being brand new to this and without a mentor, it all seems a little murky at this point. I'll include a few links below. The first one from the folks I bought the kefir from and a couple more from sites that might be more authoritative.
  1. poseymom.com
  2. traditionalcookingschool.com
  3. kombbuchakamp.com
  4. growforagecookferment.com/

I woke up at 1:30 AM fretting over the whole thing. Tasted a spoonful; about six hours in it just tastes like room temperature sweet milk.

Attachment 48022
Several years ago, I read about a fermented milk product made by nomads. The milk and starter were put into a goat's stomach to ferment. The stomach was hung at the doorway or entrance to the tent in which they lived. The stomach holding the fermenting milk was intentionally bumped as people went through the doorway. I did a bit of internet searching and found that it was kefir that I had read about and which "likes" to be agitated.

I noticed in your second link that they say you can stir the milk during the fermentation process. With yogourt, you don't want to bump or stir at all, while it is fermenting.
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Old 07-31-2021, 12:43 PM   #6
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Thanks for the conversation and input taxlady. Those nomads also carried their kefir-filled goat stomachs on horseback of course, where they would have been agitated heck out of.

Maybe what's happening is those coalesced marble-sized collections of grains pictured in post #4 are being broken up increasing the surface area contacting the lactose-laden milk. In a few hours, when I taste and stir again, I'll try to break those balls up a little more.

Don't know if anything will come of it but in a thank-you message, I invited poseymom, the owner of the Etsy site I bought from, to view this little blog and maybe join DC, sharing her advice and experience.
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Old 07-31-2021, 01:52 PM   #7
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Thank you for the post skilletlicker. I have been curious about kefir for a long time.
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Old 07-31-2021, 03:25 PM   #8
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I find this very interesting, too. As I mentioned in another post, I've been buying kefir from a Mediterranean grocery store not too far from me. I love it. Look forward to hearing more about how it works out for you.
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Old 07-31-2021, 07:32 PM   #9
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I find this very interesting, too. As I mentioned in another post, I've been buying kefir from a Mediterranean grocery store not too far from me. I love it. Look forward to hearing more about how it works out for you.
Thanks GG. You know, I love kefir cheese but I've never bought or even tasted kefir milk.

At nineteen hours I tasted and stirred the milk, breaking up the clumps. Now it has been 24 hours on the counter at ~80įF. Tastes a little tangy; not at all a "spoiled milk taste" though. What little smell there is, I'd describe as faintly sweet; not sour at all. Can't find any more big collections of clumped together grains, in fact not sure I found any grains at all with the wooden spoon. Decided to let it ride another 12 hours and see what happens. If I quit now and don't have any grains to start another batch the experiment failed.

Crossing my fingers.
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Old 07-31-2021, 11:22 PM   #10
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I remember somewhere that the time for fermenting the kefir was 8-48 hours, so you have a little longer. Seems the temperature you've had was fairly warm, so it seems it would have been faster, but I don't have much experience with it (a friend used to make it in his kitchen, before he moved). I've been wanting to try it, so I'm watching this link closely.

I ferment my own yogurt and buttermilk - the latter being easy, as it's another one to do at room temp, rather than higher temperature, like yogurt. It slowly looses its potency, and after about 10 times, I buy a quart of BM from the store, and use a half cup of that, to a half gallon of milk, and start again. Only takes 10-12 hours.

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Old 08-01-2021, 02:32 AM   #11
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I remember somewhere that the time for fermenting the kefir was 8-48 hours, so you have a little longer. Seems the temperature you've had was fairly warm, so it seems it would have been faster, but I don't have much experience with it (a friend used to make it in his kitchen, before he moved). I've been wanting to try it, so I'm watching this link closely.

I ferment my own yogurt and buttermilk - the latter being easy, as it's another one to do at room temp, rather than higher temperature, like yogurt. It slowly looses its potency, and after about 10 times, I buy a quart of BM from the store, and use a half cup of that, to a half gallon of milk, and start again. Only takes 10-12 hours.

Once you have the buttermilk, you can use that as a starter for quark. Well, actually, you just turn the buttermilk into quark. I have made that quite few times. After heating and straining, it makes a really good cream cheese substitute. I have read that German cheesecake is usually made with quark.
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Old 08-01-2021, 08:33 AM   #12
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Welcome to the party pepperhead. Didn't know or forgot about homemade buttermilk. Taxlady, thought I'd never heard of quark but reading this I remember researching the topic some years ago. I think it was the discussion of rennet that made me set it aside. Maybe time to take another look.

So I woke up at 5:30, 34Ĺ hours into the kefir ferment to find it had thickened a lot with whey at the bottom of the jar. A mild aroma not at all like spoiled milk. The taste was hard to describe but definitely tangier than it was about 10 hours earlier. First felt relief that it was still alive, but then I wondered how the heck am I going to separate kefir grains from curds.
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After straining I was left with a couple of teaspoons of what I assume to be kefir grains. More than I started with, I think. I reckon milk kefir curds are either just really thick liquid, unlike cheese curds, or my batch hadn't progressed to the curd stage yet. That question will probably get answered with more experience.
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Moved the grains to a small glass jar, covered with milk, and moved to the fridge. Tied the thickened kefir into a cheesecloth bundle and refrigerated that too.
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So in 48 hours I'll taste and then flavor the cheese and start another batch. At this stage, the main goals are to learn from experience and grow my kefir grain stock. One of the advantages of kefir over other milk ferments discussed here is the potency of the culture does not gradually degrade and the volume of the culture increases with each ferment, hopefully anyway.

So that's the current state of my (mis?)understanding. Just learning by trial and error and your shared knowledge.

Had to make room in the refrigerator for the kefir so gonna have a beer for breakfast while it's still cold.
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Old 08-01-2021, 10:34 AM   #13
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I have made a buttermilk cheese before, without adding rennet. The first time, I got a lot more whey drain off than with yogurt, therefore less cheese, but the flavor was delicious. So I let a batch of buttermilk cure longer - something that I'd done before by accident - and used that, and got considerably more. The usual buttermilk culture seems to create a different flavor than the mesophilic culture called for with the quark, in the link in your last post. But that's sort of a generic term, and there is more than one type of mesophilic culture.

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Old 08-01-2021, 11:46 AM   #14
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I usually use sour cream to start my quark. I buy sour cream from companies that don't thicken the sour cream. I don't use rennet, because that's more effort than I have wanted to bother with and it isn't traditional. I usually get about 300 grams of quark out of a litre of milk. I don't use ultra-pasteurized milk. I tried once and it didn't work.
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Old 08-01-2021, 06:15 PM   #15
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I usually use sour cream to start my quark. I buy sour cream from companies that don't thicken the sour cream. I don't use rennet, because that's more effort than I have wanted to bother with and it isn't traditional. I usually get about 300 grams of quark out of a litre of milk. I don't use ultra-pasteurized milk. I tried once and it didn't work.
Code:
Wikipedia on Rennet
Traditional method
Dried and cleaned stomachs of young calves are sliced into small pieces and then put into salt water or whey, together with some vinegar or wine to lower the pH of the solution. After some time (overnight or several days), the solution is filtered. The crude rennet that remains in the filtered solution can then be used to coagulate milk. About 1 g of this solution can normally coagulate 2 to 4 L of milk.[3]
Nah. Don't reckon I'll be using the traditional method either.
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Old 08-01-2021, 06:23 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skilletlicker View Post
Code:
Wikipedia on Rennet
Traditional method
Dried and cleaned stomachs of young calves are sliced into small pieces and then put into salt water or whey, together with some vinegar or wine to lower the pH of the solution. After some time (overnight or several days), the solution is filtered. The crude rennet that remains in the filtered solution can then be used to coagulate milk. About 1 g of this solution can normally coagulate 2 to 4 L of milk.[3]
Nah. Don't reckon I'll be using the traditional method either.
Maybe some rennet in quark is traditional. If they ever made the stuff in sheep's (or other critters) stomachs, there might have been some rennet left on the inside of that stomach. I read that was how cheese was "invented". i read that a long time ago, so I don't know if that is at all acurate.
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Old 08-01-2021, 06:30 PM   #17
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Those particular nomads we were talking about earlier woulda prolly used a goat. :)
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Old 08-02-2021, 12:27 PM   #18
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Calling it a Success

Ate my kefir cheese for breakfast this morning with a tomato and zaatar. Straining the thick milk for 24 hours was longer than necessary. I liked it a lot. It was tangier than the kefir cheese, labne, I buy at the Mediterranean Grocery, but then it was thicker too; almost like feta. If I'd stopped straining after eight or twelve hours it would have been closer in texture and flavor I think.

I started with 12 ounces of whole milk and ended up with 5ĺ ounces of whey and I'm guessing about 5 ounces of cheese. The difference lost mostly to evaporation. That's about the same ratio I get with greek yogurt, which I tend to strain a little too long also.

I'll start another batch this afternoon or tomorrow and gradually increase my "grain" supply until I can do quarts or maybe half-gallons. I'm very happy with how it turned out and grateful for the conversation and encouragement.
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Old 08-02-2021, 12:52 PM   #19
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I'm glad to read that it turned out tasty.

Now we want to read more about you figuring out about the grains.
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Old 08-02-2021, 11:37 PM   #20
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Glad to hear about your success, skillet! Keep up the good work, and keep us informed!
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